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Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Students Come Together to Celebrate Founder’s Day

Clayton Gary

On April 16, students and teachers across all three Sidwell divisions celebrated Founder’s Day, an annual tradition where community members enjoy activities and commemorate the school’s founding. 

Founder’s Day celebrates Thomas W. Sidwell, who established the school in 1883. Sidwell began with seven students in the back room of a Friends Meeting House in the 1800 block of I Street NW. Over the years, Sidwell has developed into a community of 1,142 students and 273 full-time faculty and staff. 

Students consider Founder’s Day to be one of the most meaningful days at Sidwell. It unites the community and brings together the divisions for a day of fun. The day is full of annual traditions, including Head of School Brian Garman dressing up as Thomas Sidwell. 

Some highlights from this year’s Founder’s Day included temporary tattoos, bracelet and necklace making, four-square, origami and slime making. Upper School clubs also created booths to promote their missions, giving students across campuses an opportunity to connect. For example, the Friends Environmental Action Team (FEAT) and Sustainable Fashion clubs paired together to host a clothing swap. 

Ahead of Founder’s Day, senior and FEAT club head Mila Maltby said, “I’m so excited for this year’s clothing swap. It is a perfect way to simultaneously include the entire community [and] help our planet.” Student volunteers led other activities and games like basketball, chess, spike-ball, face-painting and more. 

High schoolers in the Asian Students Association (ASA) taught origami folding and other types of puzzles to the Lower Schoolers. Dean of Student Life Darren Speece said that his favorite Founder’s Day activities were “the cookout, bouncy house and the bomb pop popsicles.”

When asked about attending Founder’s Day as a Lower School student, sophomore Caroline Mohammadi recalled that “Founder’s Day was inspiring because [Lower Schoolers] don’t usually get to go to the Upper School campus and spend time with older students. It’s crazy that just a few years ago I was visiting for Founder’s Day, but now I’m welcoming our Lower and Middle School visitors.” 

 The Upper School students also had the opportunity to participate in sessions run by Sidwell alumni, a tradition known as the “Let Your Life Speak” event. Students chose which three sessions they wanted to join, based on the types of career each student is interested in exploring further.

Alumni professions ranged from doctors to musicians to journalists, offering students insight into what life after high school can look like in their fields of interest. Speakers shared personal stories, professional experiences and general anecdotes with students, demonstrating how they “let their lives speak” each day. Students ended that portion of Founder’s Day with a presentation from keynote speaker Cornelia Griggs ’‘01, a pediatric surgeon. 

Sophomore Avery Slover loved the event. “It’s so motivating to hear from past Sidwell students,” she said. 

The Upper Schoolers ended their Founder’s Day with an all-school Arts Guild, where students performed musical acts in front of their peers. 

Students fondly recalled this past Founder’s Day and look forward to other opportunities to build community. “Founder’s Day is one of the only opportunities to build community across all three schools, and I am grateful for the opportunity to gather together as a community,” said sophomore Lauren Jain.

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